Engaging the Brain: Practice Tips from an Interview with Spencer Myer

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I attended Spencer Myer's practicing workshop at the NCKP 2019 Conference. His emphasis on engaging the brain in variable practice techniques sparked my interest and supports research on how we learn. I thought I knew every possible practice suggestion, but Spencer presented and demonstrated many new and unusual ideas that he was using in...
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Kay Bohn
I can't find the videos referenced in the print magazine.
Monday, 17 August 2020 09:54
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Change It Up!: Interleaved Practice–What It Is, Why It Works

What is Interleaved Practice?  Repetition is the most time-honored method of learning anything new, be it basketball, math, or piano. Practice! And practice some more.  But how do we structure practicing? How musicians or math students organize their practice and study time is not frequently discussed or thought about in great detail. Mus...
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Amy Glennon
This is absolutely fascinating. Looking forward to implementing these ideas. Thank you!
Saturday, 15 June 2019 07:04
Catherine Burge
Thanks for making us aware of these ideas on the Webinar today "Possibilities of Practice in a Pandemic"
Tuesday, 21 April 2020 11:07
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March/April 2018: Create and motivate

The previous issue's column included a list of the benefits of scale practice as well as an approach to "squaring" scales to fit the four- and eight-measure phrase lengths so common in piano literature. Now, here's another way to practice scales for advancing pianists. Assign it to students who have a history of being motivated by extra challenges....
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Having fun with scales

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Yeah, right! Is it really possible to have fun playing scales? For many students, practicing scales is a chore. In fact,it is a big chore and seems to be boring and confusing while taking too much time away from practicing pieces. "If my piece does not have a scalar passage, why should I play the scale of this piece's key? That is a waste of time!"...
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The art of practicing: Broad principles

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Have you ever thought that, from a young student's viewpoint, practicing is counterintuitive? Think about other skills you learned as a child: tying your shoes, for example. An adult shows you how to do it (I used the "Bunny Rabbit Ears" method with my nephews), you practice clumsily at first, then with increasing mastery, until finally there is no...
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The art of practicing: I really should be practicing well

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I do apologize to Gary Graffman for filching his title as blatantly as I have, but let's face it—although the quality of one's practice may be just one factor in determining how fast and far one progresses at the piano, it's a critical one. In the studio lessons and piano classes I teach, a large percentage of the time is devoted to how to practice...
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Survival of the fittest: A reevaluation of traditional scale and arpeggio fingerings

Fingering holds a foundational place in fine piano technique. In the words of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "More is lost through poor fingering than can be replaced by all conceivable artistry and good taste."1 For many pianists, traditional fingerings for scales and arpeggios are chiseled in stone. Codified in C.P.E. Bach's Essay on the Tr...
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Kate Davis
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Wednesday, 05 August 2020 14:41
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Preparing the mind and body for performance: Conquering stage fright through effective practice

The brain is a complex organ. It controls our systemic functions and sparks our moods, thoughts, and actions. Physiologically, the brain registers fear differently, depending upon the threat. People suffering from panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a "flight or fight" response, but those grappling with performance anxi...
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The "How-Tos" of Practicing

Probably the most important thing we can teach our students is how to practice. And, one of the most challenging things we teach is how to practice well. When we teach practice strategies that instill attention to detail and develop problem-solving skills, we help students understand how to organize life's challenges into daily, weekly, and longer-...
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Practice Steps for Successful, Independent Learning

Recently, I interviewed a prospective student; a delightful, curious, 5-year old boy. Prior to the meeting, his mother informed me that he had been studying privately for two years already, at first taking three lessons per week, and more recently, two lessons per week. I was intrigued to see what he had learned. When they arrived for the interview...
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What is the "practice toolbox" you use with your students?

Helping our students learn how to achieve expression, ease, and accuracy in their playing requires that we impart effective practice procedures. Some of these involve the how of playing, what we commonly call technique: awareness of how we move and use our bodies; how to prepare, execute, and follow-through when creating gestures; when to relax, wh...
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How can student notebooks be more effective?

When I first started teaching, I was determined not to make my students fill out the dreaded practice log. As a young teacher, I still had fresh memories of my own student days, and times spent scrambling right before a lesson to reconstruct (or perhaps invent?) my practice times for the week. Even as a kid, it seemed like a pointless exercise to m...
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How do you teach students to practice memorization?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Pete Jutras, Editor Recital performances often present a study in contrasts. How many times have we seen the youngest students march up to the piano and fearlessly play through their piece, while older students seem to exude anxiety and nervousness as they approach the piano with a terrified, h...
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"What's goin' on in there?"

Kids today are involved with lots of activities. Sports, music, special academic clubs, and other fun events keep them busy, busy, busy. In our family we try not to overload our two young boys with too much to do, yet we still find them involved in a variety of lessons and extracurricular events. As we go to these various activities, I'm ...
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What practice strategies would you assign for the "Fantasy Dance" from Op. 124 by Schumann?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Elvina Pearce, Editor Over the years I have always found the "Fantasy Dance" of Schumann ("Phantasietanz," No. 5 from the Album Leaves, Op. 124) to be an excellent teaching piece for the early advanced student. Marked presto, it is brilliant, and dramatic - a wonderful "show-off" piece for...
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What Practice Steps Would You Assign for the Burgmüller "Ballade" of Op. 100?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Elvina Pearce, Editor The Burgmiiller "Ballade" of Op. 100 (see pages 18-19) is usually a favorite with all students who can play it well. In my studio, we frequently refer to it as the "Beauty and the Beast" piece, with the "misterioso" A sections (mm. 1-22 and 49 to the end) portray...
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What Suggestions Do You Give Students for How to Practice Ornaments?

We have all heard student performances of pieces which might have been quite acceptable except for the stumbles and hesitations surrounding the execution of ornaments. Perhaps these students should not have been assigned pieces containing ornaments. Or, maybe all of the ornaments should have been deleted before the pieces w...
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How Do You Practice Rhythm? - A Student Survey

In a recent faculty seminar our resource person was an educator whose research expertise focuses on teaching effectiveness. During the seminar he showed video-tapes of effective classroom procedures and outlined ways in which we could improve our own teaching techniques. He mentioned that, although there is much research on the components...
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The Other Teacher: Home Practice

Elvina Truman Pearce is nationally recognized as a pianist, teacher, lecturer, author, and composer. She studied piano with Isabelle Vengerova and pedagogy with Frances Clark. She is currently an instructor in piano pedagogy and director of the Preparatory Division at Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois. by Elvina Pearce In th...
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About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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